It is a lovely spring morning. Not too warm, but pleasant. The birds are chirping away and the smell of spring is everywhere. The browns and grays of the eternal winter, have given way to green leaves and grass. Flowers are starting to blossom. I am on my porch with a cup of coffee and scripture. Sounds like an ideal day, right? Well, it should be. But, instead I am a ball of emotion. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I have that slightly anxious/irritable edge that comes from the absence of peace. And then I come to this passage:
“Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn,
while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.
When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived;
but when she has given birth to a child,
she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy
that a child has been born into the world.”
That is it.
I am weeping and mourning while the world is rejoicing. I am grieving and I am waiting for the joy.
Today is Coley and DJ’s baccalaureate. And tomorrow, they will graduate from college. More specifically, they will graduate from two different colleges, in two different states at the same time. Of course. You know how we Houghs are. We like to keep things really interesting.
I am not sad that they are graduating. I am thrilled to see the interesting paths that the Lord has set them on. I am so proud of the people that they have become. But…those paths are their paths. I am no longer a key player in helping them to make their ways through this life. I am more of a bystander, a Simon of Cyrene, if you will. I am here to step in and lend a hand when needed. But it isn’t my walk anymore.
When they were little, I would see how much they were growing and changing. But I had no idea that I was growing and changing right along with them. We have come a long way in the last 18 years. From the first time that I looked into their little 4 year old faces, I knew that I wanted to be their mom for the rest of my life. I knew it when I was holding DJ’s little hand as he went through another round of chemo to battle cancer. I knew it when we took Coley to the hospital to begin her own battle against the ugly beast of anorexia. I would have stepped in and done all of the fighting for both of them, if I could have. I would have. But I couldn’t. They had to fight, but I was there right beside them. I could guide them and support them and sometimes, just flat out force them to do things that they didn’t want to. That was my job. That was my role.
My role is different now. I am still there. I will still support them and offer guidance, when asked. But there is no forcing. It is up to them now. Each step is theirs to choose. And I am ok with that…I think.
Here is the thing that nobody tells you. You spend years and years, mothering and guiding, shaping and molding your kids into these amazing people. You get to the point where you start to think about them as friends, people that you enjoy to spend time with because you really love their company. And then they leave. That’s the deal people. You get through the exhausting babyhood, the terrible toddler times and the tragic teen angst. You muddle through it all and you come out on the other end a little tired and a whole lot grayer but so, so proud of the amazing people that your kids have become and then it’s time… It is their time… It is time to step out into the big bad world all by themselves and forge their own way.
This is where the grief and joy thing comes in. I am sad for my loss. I am sad that this time that we have had has come to an end. But I am also thrilled. I am thrilled to see them take on the world in a new way.
Coley has an amazing job waiting for her. She will be the project manager for Leah Darrow. If you don’t know who she is, you have to look her up. She is doing amazing things! Her ministry and mission is to promote the idea that beauty, value and worth comes from being an beloved daughter of God. I am so proud that Coley will be working with her to bring this message to a world that desperately needs it. She will be traveling and meeting some amazing people. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it has God’s fingerprints all over it. (She will also be moving to Missouri…9 hours and 14 minutes away…but that is a blog post for another day. )
DJ has been blessed to receive a fellowship to earn his Masters in Education at Saint Vincent. It is an amazing opportunity for him to be able to continue his education for free! He will be staying in Latrobe and is excited to be teaching there while taking classes. He has received many awards along the way, but the thing that makes so proud of him is seeing the love and patience and acceptance that he has for the special needs students that he works with. His gentle heart is suited for this kind of work. I am so happy to see him using his gifts to bring joy to others.
So, while I grieve for my own selfish self, I while have joy in knowing that these two are in the world. They are out there making the world a better, more beautiful place.